The Perils Of Righteous Indignation

“I did not have sex with that woman.”

If you were cognizant during the President Bill Clinton’s  administration, his words are etched in your memory. Americans were infuriated that their president cheated on his wife and jeopardized national security—and then lied about it on national television. And rightly so.

At the front of the protestors, Newt Gingerich chastised the president for his infidelity. But years later, Gingerich confessed that he was engaged in an extramarital affair in the midst of the Clinton probe.

Ouch!

Righteous indignation is a sword that swings both ways. It may help us expose someone’s flaws, but on its way back, it may expose ours.

Today, you’re going to read about a weak, pathetic man and his daughters who may share more in common with us than we’d like to admit.

TODAY’S READING

Genesis 18:16-19:38
Matthew 6:25-7:14
Psalm 8:1-9
Proverbs 2:6-15

NOTES

Lot made bread without yeast in Genesis 19:3 because it was evening when his guests arrived and he didn’t have time to let his bread rise before baking it.

The behavior of the men in Genesis 19:4-11 was deplorable, even among pagan nations. The New Bible Commentary explains, “No greater flouting of oriental conventions of hospitality can be imagined than to make guests submit to homosexual rape. Ancient societies often condoned homosexuality between consenting adults, but rape, especially of guests, was always regarded as wrong.”

A question about Genesis 19:30 that I’m unable to answer: Why was Lot afraid? He was a wealthy rancher with so many flocks that he had to separate from Abraham. He had the financial means to hire people who would protect him.

The Word Biblical Commentary points out the pathetic irony of Genesis 19:30-38: “The angels have rescued Lot and his virgin daughters from the Sodom mob; now they sacrifice their virginity and their father’s honor when there is no actual danger.”

THE WORD MADE FRESH (how Jesus makes it real to my life)

Lot’s story is pretty disturbing. He lives in a town that by ancient standards, makes Las Vegas look like Disneyland. He was passive, weak, and offered his virgin daughters to be raped by the men in his city so they wouldn’t touch his houseguests. If he was wealthy enough to live wherever he chose, why did he choose to live in such a deplorable place?

Unfortunately, his daughters’ fiancés lost their lives in the destruction of the city, and with a fearful, protective father, they held little or no hope for getting married and having children. So they got their father drunk and had sex with him.

I guess you can take the girl out of Sodom, but you can’t take the Sodom out of the girl!

About the time my religious ardor was adequately worked up over the story, I moved to our New Testament reading. Jesus said not to worry about what I’ll eat, or my body, or what clothes I’ll wear. In other words, don’t get so worked up about my life.

Then Jesus throws cold water on my fervor with these words:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

–Matthew 6:31-32 (emphasis added)

Oops! To quote the great philosopher Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?”

Yes, I worry about these things. I worry about finances, getting out of debt, being a better husband and father, getting a young church on its feet. And this places me on level ground with pagans and Lot’s daughters. That’s a way to knock me off my religious high horse! I guess there’s a little more pagan in me than I’d like to admit.

Jesus then follows these oft-quoted words with some balm for my wounds (from falling off my horse): “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

I don’t need to worry because God has it covered. In fact, he wants me to forget about me and focus on him.

Finally, lest you think I want to leave you sprawled on the ground, read Psalm 8 from today’s reading. This is how God sees us.

Isn’t it amazing how our readings seems to work together?

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. Describe a time when you fell off your religious high horse.
  2. Why do you worry?
  3. What does today’s reading—especially the portion in Matthew—tell you about God?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “The Perils Of Righteous Indignation

  1. Suzanne

    Why do I worry? Hmmmm, that is a good question when the Creator of the Universe tells me not to do it. Wouldn’t I trust our all knowing, omnipresent, all seeing God on what He says about not worrying? It’s not just a mere suggestion by Him, but it’s a direct command. In other words, it is easy for me to overlook the seriousness of this, and yet point out someone else’s serious problems. I’m guilty as charged! I grew up in a family who turned worrying into an art form. It was masqueraded by thinking things through, planning ahead even being a “responsible” thinker. God is not a God of chaos and crisis so planning ahead and using common sense I believe is of Him, but at what point do we cross over into worry? For me, it’s clearly fear over trust. It’s centering more of my thoughts on “my life” and the “what if’s” verses centering my thoughts on seeking His Kingdom and a focus on others. The ironic thing is that worry is such a delusion. You think you are gaining something but you really aren’t. What a waste of energy and time! Honestly, I want to control the outcome of things and that leads me right into the trap of worrying. I’m so thankful that God gives us the remedy and promise of what we should do instead of worry. Seek His Kingdom first and He will take care of the rest. We don’t have to! What a relief!! So my hearts desire is to be transformed so that my first and foremost thought is seeking His Kingdom and trusting God with the rest, including the outcome on things no matter what it may be.

  2. Mike

    Suzanne, as an almost 70 year old pastor let me assure you that I am still working on this! I know that worry doesn’t accomplish anything but one thing is positive about it. I can’t sleep when I am worried so in the night when it is quiet (maybe like David writing Psalm 8) I sometimes come to my senses and remember that God is sovereign. Remembering, and finding the peace that trust restores is the good thing. It is certain that the stresses of life get to us. Jesus sweat drops of blood over the stress of the impending cross. That is stress! But he trusted God more. He sought the Kingdom. These are things I think on as I attempt to become free from worry. I love Psalm 8.

    Mike

  3. Kerri

    I suspect Abraham knew there was no one righteous left in Sodom, not even Lot. I find it interesting that Lot’s level of morality and righteousness had gone down considerably since leaving Abraham. In the OT it seems that man was doomed to a life of destruction and immorality when God was not specifically intervening or revealing himself to him. Men were so blind to his presence and power! When strange animals from all over the earth, some no one had ever seen before, showed up at Noah’s boat, wouldn’t that have given some of them pause? Wouldn’t they have thought that maybe Noah’s warning was true? But no, they continued to scoff and disbelieve. So when Lot left Abraham’s presence it seems he left God’s favor and blessing as well. Was he really wealthy anymore? Maybe he had lost his wealth and that’s why he had moved to the city. He never seems to mourn the loss of anything material and later lived in a cave. Without God’s favor his morality suffered and he likely enjoyed the lifestyle of Sodom. Remember, “he hesitated” to leave even after the events of that evening and he allowed his daughters to be engaged to men who were evidently bisexual rapists. “…All the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house”, which implies they were part of the crowd, and were struck blind. Yet when Lot talked to them they thought he was joking? Seriously? How badly deceived were these people? And what about Lot’s wife? Lot and his family were protected if they reached Zoar. I don’t think she just looked back, I think she actually ran back. Why did such a sinful city have such a powerful hold on her?

    This helps to remind me that without God’s favor, without his blessing, without his intervention through his son Jesus, I have no hope! I would undoubtedly succumb to my sinful, fallen nature and would be completely blind to any evidence of God. I am so thankful that I can have a personal relationship with him, that I can talk to him and that I can see evidence of his work in my life and those around me.

    I love Mt 6:25-34 and was just reminding my eldest daughter of those verses last night. She suffers from an anxiety disorder and tends to worry obsessively. However the best remedy is not anti-anxiety meds but prayer and the words of Jesus. I am so grateful that at the age of 10 she is recognizing just how powerful prayer can be and that she can sleep peacefully knowing that Jesus has taken care of all the worries she laid out before him. In fact watching the faithfulness of God to my children, how they relate to him and he to them has taught me more about the nature of God than anything else I have experienced. If he cares about finding lost teddy bears and hamsters, then how much more does he care about the bigger things in life!

    • Kerri, thanks for your rich insights. You know, acknowledging my sin actually brings me relief, not condemnation. And like you, it reminds me of how much I need Jesus.

      Sorry to hear about your daughter’s anxiety disorder. The good news is, God hasn’t left us without hope!

  4. Caryn

    The Genesis passage shows me that the evil one has always been perverting the God-given gift of sexuality for his purposes in societies and in families. And, it shows us a society in which women were more like livestock than like human beings, even to a father.

    It makes me think of how radically different Jesus was during his time on Earth. He treated women and girls as full human beings; he would speak to them, relate to them, protect them.

    For example, Jesus did not tolerate the sexual immorality of the religious men who wanted to stone the woman whom they caught (read trapped?) in adultery. Yet, all he did to confront them was to squat down and write in the dirt with his finger.

    I love the passage in Matthew. It is a favorite. I have taken to saying this when I start to worry or yearn to go home to heaven, “I’m trusting in you, Lord. I put my hope in your Word.”

    I’m also learning to thank and praise God as I go through my day, when worry begins to start.

    He’s the Best!

  5. Linda

    A few years ago I became convicted that worry is really the same as making the tremendous and egotistical assumption that I’m in control. Trying to be in control of situations and other people is pretty much the same as pride, right?
    Talk about being up on a high horse!

    What can we control? Our responses and reactions and behavior. Ours. Not those of others. Other than that, we really can’t control anything, and when we try to do, we drive ourselves (and probably everyone around us) crazy.

    As Suzanne said, we can be prudent with our planning, but when we try to control everything (and everyone) even with the best of intentions, we are doomed to failure. Now, when tempted to worry (and aren’t we all at times?) I try to remind myself Who it is Who has the future in His hands.

    Not little silly preposterous and prideful moi.

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